In October 2021, Andia Augustin-Billy, MA ’09, PhD ’15, became the first Black faculty member to receive tenure at Centenary College of Louisiana in its 196-year history.
She pursued graduate studies at Washington University upon learning that Julie Singer, professor of French in Arts & Sciences, was looking for bright students to build a program. “I relished my time at WashU,” Augustin-Billy says. “I was actively involved in the French department, the Black Graduate Council, and the Graduate Student Senate.”
Augustin-Billy maintains her passion for making a difference as an associate professor of French and Francophone studies at Centenary College. She stands out among her peers for her unique perspective as a woman born in the predominantly Black country of Haiti.
Each fall, she takes incoming freshmen outside the classroom to learn about the Black experience in Paris. She also takes students to Haiti each year as part of her “Killing with Kindness” course, which examines the “unintended consequences of aid and how one could adopt a culturally sensitive approach.”
“I ask students to bring books to build a library,” Augustin-Billy says. “Books shaped me and saved me when I was in Haiti. I want to provide the opportunity to at least one student in Haiti to escape, to imagine, and to free themselves through the power of literature.”